The secret of contentment can’t be in wiping noses, can it?

It’s the winter of my discontent. Poetic language is sometimes lost on me, so I’ve always thought there’s something about winter that makes a person discontented. For some reason, I dwell on all the things I want or don’t have more in the cold, snowy, dreary months of winter.

This winter, my discontent includes:

  • our house
  • our income
  • being a stay-at-home mom
  • my husband
  • the present
  • the future
  • church
  • seminary

And those are just the things that come to mind immediately. I know I’ve dwelt on other areas recently. Earlier this week, I was convinced I was not cut out for motherhood and God had no use for me in His kingdom. The reason? I’ve spent the better part of the last week battling illness (in myself) and wiping the children’s noses. This latter activity brings me no fulfillment whatsoever. So, I began to wonder, what use I could possibly be to the kingdom of God while wiping noses every couple of minutes. My heart longs for greater things; my mind has dreams of glory.

Somewhere inside me, I know that motherhood is a blessed gift, the HIGHEST calling maybe, but in this instant-gratification, microwave dinner world, the payoff of parenting is like slow roasting a turkey. I feel like I have to wait years before I’ll see any reward from this gig. I used to work in newspapers. The results of my labors were daily. Motherhood seems to be the same thing, day in, day out.

That’s not exactly fair. Our days are not boring by any means, but sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who experiences the madness, and what good is that to anyone else?

The apostle Paul said he had learned the secret of being content, and people usually follow that with his statement, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” So Christ is the secret to contentment, but how does that live itself out in my world? I know I ought to be content, but I’m not really sure how to get there. When I find myself wanting to be content, I discover something else with which I’m discontented.

And I’m a little afraid I’m going to spend my whole life like this — wanting what I can’t have or don’t have, wishing for another season of life, wondering why I’m not OK with life as it is instead of longing for life as I wish it was.

What are your secrets to contentment? How do you live with your life as it is while still hoping for better things to come?

Yesterday, three auction trucks pulled up in front of the house across the street. Our neighbor had been sick for a few weeks then was moved to an assisted living facility. Her family, it seems, had been through the house. What was left was left to the auction company to haul away.

Two trucks of stuff. One truck of garbage. A person’s whole life, as it were, all her possessions, gone in a day. Someone else determined what was important enough to keep, what could be sold and what should be thrown away.

Watching the process was sad, in a way, even though I didn’t know our neighbor at all. But it reminded me how quickly life passes, how easily “stuff” comes into our life and leaves it.

I’m trying to start this process myself in our house. One of my areas of discontentment is the size of our house compared to the amount of “stuff” we have. It’s not the house, really, that’s the problem; it’s our accumulation of things. I’ve begun boxing up things we aren’t using right now. I’ve started a give away bag. I’ve bagged up newspapers and magazines to recycle.

I’m not convinced it will solve my discontentment, but it’s a start.

When Shakespeare wrote the “winter of discontent” line, he meant that discontent was dying. I get it now. And I’m hoping that this really is the winter of my discontent.

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3 thoughts on “The secret of contentment can’t be in wiping noses, can it?

  1. It’s something like “Now the winter of our discontent is made glorious summer by this son of York.” Winter sucks. Shakespeare knew it. lol! This week has been awful, just really awful–for me anyway. And reading your blog today and a couple others kind of helped me to remember that it’s just winter blahs, I think.

    I kind of think that life is all about overcoming obstacles…at least that way–when something hard comes up I will think, “Okay..this is gonna be rough…but this is what I was made for, so here goes!” I’m not sure that is in the Bible anywhere…but it helps me to look at the hard parts as challenges to overcome & problems to solve. It helps me not feel so helpless.

    I don’t have any great advice for being content..I struggle with it. One thing that I have been trying to do lately is focus on others. I’ve been trying to notice more when others are down & send them a note or bring them a little gift. It’s totally not much, but it’s also something that i’ve been pretty bad at in the past. And I’m trying to get involved somewhere around town..I really want to be involved with the community…I’m just not really sure how to do that yet, I guess.

    A few weeks ago I read Galatians through again & 5:13 says: You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

    It just occurred to me then that maybe my discontentedness was indulging in the flesh. I mean–sometimes I’m just wallowing, you know? Just wishing I had more excitement, or financial stability, or less troubles, or sometimes I don’t even know what I want–I’m just not satisfied with what I’ve got. But I think Galatians kind of has the antidote–Serve one another humbly in love. I know I can be way happier and end up with a better perspective when I can manage to take the focus off of myself to take care of the people around me.

  2. Hi Lisa! I just found your blog! I know this is an old post, but I wanted to comment. I remember when our two oldest where the ages of your kids now, and I kept wanting to speed time up. I wanted them to older so we could be out of that BUSY toddler stage. Now that I have FOUR and our youngest two are your kids’ ages, I keep saying slow down! The time of wiping noses and cleaning vomit( yes, last night) passes way too quickly and I can’t believe we are on our way out of those sweet young stages.

    It really does pass way too fast, and I wish I would have learned sooner to turn off that growing button to get them to stop growing because now with an 8 and 6 yr old I can barely remember that stage of their life.

    So I’ve learned my lesson and am savoring every second I get with my two young ones while having a complete blast with the older ones. They are so fun now..and much less maintenance.

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